What You Need To Know If You Have Employees Who Use Medical Marijuana

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Since 1996, 20 states and the District of Columbia have enacted some form of legislation that allows for the non-criminal use of marijuana for medical purposes, with more states likely to follow suit.

Colorado and Washington are the only states at this time that allow for the recreational use of marijuana. Employers who operate in these states may be uncertain about what circumstances they can take action with respect to an employee who fails a drug test or otherwise admits to being a medical marijuana patient.

Here are some points worth keeping in mind:

In Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine and Rhode Island, employers may not refuse to hire or otherwise penalize an individual solely on the basis of that individual’s status as a qualified patient for medical marijuana use. Additionally, Arizona and Delaware strictly prohibit discharging, penalizing or refusing to hire lawful medical marijuana users based upon a positive drug test for marijuana components or metabolites unless (s)he used, possessed, or was impaired by marijuana while the patient was on the employer’s premises or during work hours. This means in Arizona and Delaware, a positive test result alone will not provide the employer with sufficient grounds to discharge. The employer must have additional evidence that an employee was under the influence of marijuana while at work.

 

How To Handle Medical Marijuana Use Among Employees

FLORIDA: Here’s the hypothetical: You’re a Jacksonville shipping company with a super strict drug-free workplace policy.

An employee has an accident, and on the required drug screen, the employee tests positive for marijuana. But said employee has a medical marijuana prescription, and says they weren’t under the influence on the job.

Now what?

The hypothetical situation isn’t too far from fiction. Florida lawmakers have approved a low-THC medical marijuana dubbed Charlotte’s Web this session, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signaled he would sign the bill. And Florida voters could approve a broader medical marijuana this amendment, if early polling is an indication.

So what’s an employer to do?